Ivo PosPíšIl the Permanent Crisis, or Can, Could or Should



Ivo PosPíšIl the Permanent Crisis, or Can, Could or Should
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The Permanent Crisis, Or Can, Could or Should
Comparative Literar y Studies Sur vive?:
Between Histor y, Theor y and Area Studies
I vo P o spí š i l
Department of Slavonic Studies, Masaryk University
‘A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of comparative literary studies.’ Such may
be said, with only a little exaggeration, of the current state of the method and discipline. If we take into account that comparative literary studies only really came into
existence at the time of positivism as well as the still surviving conception of literary
history and evolutionary visions of genre studies later called by Paul van Tieghem
“genologie” (a term hard to find in any French dictionary now), the development and
contemporary state of literary criticism might be termed as a massive return to and,
at the same time, revaluation of positivist concepts.
This is confirmation of the fact that positivist literary criticism created basic methodological tools and visions and with these elaborated the problems of literariness
and the poetic language of literary works while its post-postmodernist stage faces
the challenge of the formation of new concepts of literary criticism via permanent
returns and revaluations. Comparative literary studies (as we also have to take into
consideration comparative biology, law or political studies) have had a long and colourful history. Unlike the above-mentioned disciplines, it represents three positions:
an approach, a method and an autonomous discipline of literary scholarship or criticism with an elaborate system of terminology and methodological tools. While the
nineteenth and twentieth century manifested three stages of development — the cultural historical, positivist and morphological/eidological/formalist/ poetological/immanent and, last but not least, receptionist /hermeneutical — the recent stage has
been represented by the dialogue of cultures, area studies and the revaluation of literary theory and history or, moreover, theory of literary history.
The characteristic feature of the contemporary stage of the development of comparative literary studies is deep self-reflection and, at the same time, a certain defensiveness
and awareness of the uncertainty of the existence of comparative studies as such.
Comparison is a commonplace method and comparative methods are well-known
in nearly all scientific disciplines. In the sphere of literary studies comparative literary
studies has become a discipline that contains its own history, theory, terminology and
research methods. This long history and elaborate theory and methodology make
comparative studies in literary criticism a specific phenomenon.
Comparison in literary studies has been closely connected with the formation
of the complex of European literatures, with the Mediterranean area, with ancient
T h e Pe r manent Crisis, or Can, Could or Should Comparative Literar y Studies Sur vive?
Greek and Roman roots of European culture and, finally, with the domain of national
literatures. Now it seems that the evolutionary circle has reached a certain point of
return towards searching new syntheses. In the past, comparison often served an
imitation of the classical models, as in the Renaissance and Neoclassicism. Comparison was played a role mainly in the world of free artistic values that communicated
and interacted with one another. Comparison was possible in the world of medieval
universalism, later in the Renaissance period and in the era of bourgeois revolutions
and the Napoleonic wars that liquidated feudal isolation and social hierarchies, with
the idea of a more-or-less united Europe and, of course, in the period of Romanticism
with its escapism, on the one hand, and social revolt on the other.
Especially within the framework of Romanticism, famous works arose on the
basis of comparison. The general idea of J.W. Goethe (1749–1832) expressed in his
cultural travelogue Italienische Reise (1816–1817) focused on the impulses of various
cultural strata that came into existence on the Apennine Peninsula, and in the notion of ‘world literature’ (Weltliteratur). Then there is the work of Germaine de Staël
(Madame de Staël, 1766–1817), De l’Allemagne (1810); in Central Europe we find
the fundamental study of Pavel Josef Šafárik (1795–1861), Geschichte der slawischen
Sprache und Literatur nach allen Mundarten (1826); and probably the first comparative work by H. M. Posnett, Comparative Literature (1886).
While in the founding period and later in the years of the prevalent impact of
formalism and immanent, autonomous methods there was a general idea of comparative studies as such, since the mid-20th century there has been a prevalent methodological dispersion.
The Czech tradition of comparative studies has been most associated with the
works of A. N. Veselovsky (1838–1906), Jiří Polívka (1858–1933), Matija Murko
(1861–1952) and, above all, Frank Wollman (1888–1969) on the one hand, and Prokop Haškovec (1876–1935), Václav Černý (1905–1987), František Chudoba (1878–
1941) and Karel Štěpaník (1903–1970), on the other.
The presence of a sense of permanent crisis is a feature of literary scholarship
across the board and so naturally concerns comparative literary studies.1 But the crisis of comparative studies is largely connected with a crisis of methodology: positivist, morphological/eidological/immanent or receptionist. One of the recent tools
used in a bid to overcome this impasse is that of area, or territorial, studies.
Over the past few decades, new non-Czech editions of the work of Frank Wollman
have marked him as one of the leading figures of twentieth-century literary scholarship in general and of comparative studies in particular (to the chagrin of opponents,
who have been shocked that his 80-year-old reflections might offer something topical
to contemporary literary development).
Wollman’s ideas have proved progressive even in an era of multiculturalism — he
declared the common roots of our culture (‘multiculturalism before multiculturalism’), a shared Mediterranean cradle of European civilization and culture. Thus he
was against discrimination of Slavonic literatures and must have clashed with Prague
German slavists of the interwar period who then, in the years of Nazi dictatorship,
took control of the Slavonic Institute and its publishing activities.
As early as Wollman’s first book synthesis The Literature of the Slavs (Slovesnost
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Slovanů, 1928) which was published in German recently, Wollman’s significance was
clear as the creator of a new methodology that was gradually overcoming Ideengeschichte and tended towards an eidological, that is to say, morphological vision of
literary evolution.2 Especially in eidological similarity, Wollman sought a new, restituted but relative, unity of Slavonic literary community. The theoretical basis of his
reflections led him to the view that the last simplified version of Slavonic literary
community found itself in a state of permanent disintegration. At the same time,
however, new common features appeared and chains of national literatures could be
linked by this community even in the period of modernism, which can be found in
the very conclusion of The Literature of the Slavs.
Partial syntheses, such as Slovene Drama (Slovinské drama, 1924), were published
outside the Czech cultural milieu — the Slovene editor confirmed Wollman’s brilliant
reputation by saying that he had discovered Slovene drama for the Slovenes themselves.3 And there was the famous Slovak edition of folklore collections organized by
Wollman and his pre-war Bratislava students.4
Some theorists today battle for Wollman’s methodological heritage. The Slovak
comparativist and expert in Italian studies Pavol Koprda in his article prepared for
publishing in the Slovak Review in 2006, ‘Frank Wollmnan through the Eyes of a
Non-Slavist’ (Frank Wollman očami neslavistu), rightly applies Wollman’s methods
to the sphere of non-Slavonic European literatures. But Koprda understands Wollman as a combative advocate of discriminated minor Slavonic literatures, although
Wollman’s strength lies more in his ability to detect the common sources of European
culture in its Mediterranean complexity — all our literatures have similar or identical
roots and composite aesthetic values.
Nevertheless, Pavol Koprda is a scholar who understands Wollman’s conception
in its depth and with its cultural background. And Wollman does not seek any privileges or protections for Slavonic literatures in the sense of fashionable ‘positive discrimination’; he prefers to balance and relativize various stages of development of
national literatures with their rise and falls.
Dionýz Ďurišin’s position tended towards the boundaries of traditional comparative studies through the area, or territorial principle, with the help of ‘interliterariness’
and ‘literary centrisms’. Ivan Dorovský was the first Czech slavist and comparativist to
become a member of Ďurišin’s team — the others, including the author of this study,
followed him later after his invitations in the wake of Ďurišin’s famous trip to Brno in
1992 (when I spent nearly three hours in stormy debate with our Slovak guest) and
several other meetings including the Congress of Slavists in Bratislava a year later.
Dorovský was one of the active members of the team who not only mastered its
methodology and terminology, but also developed it. His discipline — Balkan studies in the widest sense — provided him with much material and contributed to his
formulations that gave a more general character.
One of his recent studies Slavonic Interliterary Correspondences and Differences
(Slovanské meziliterární shody a rozdíly) turns back to the Balkan cluster of problems5,
but in a much wider context. It comprises his work of the past few years that the author divided into three sections: the first contains the studies devoted to the Balkans
and to the problems of Southern Slavs; the second deals with general methodologi52
T h e Pe r manent Crisis, or Can, Could or Should Comparative Literar y Studies Sur vive?
cal problems of interliterariness and traditional and ‘new’ comparative studies; and
the third concerns the problems of South-Slavonic modernism and postmodernism.
Dorovský’s studies are — besides several others —among the most consistent but at
the same time most creative continuations of the work of the late Dionýz Ďurišin.
The article, ‘Language as a Characteristic Feature of a Nation’ (Jazyk jako znak
národa), is a polemic putting forward the view that the rise of standard Macedonian goes back further than the period after 1945. Dorovský convincingly argues
that standard Macedonian was being formed gradually, not through any sociological
or administrative impact, but naturally out of the depth of national life and linguistic development, especially in the work of Krste Misirkov (On Macedonian Affairs,
1903). The surfacing of a standard language accompanied the rise of the independent
nation, a contention confirmed by the Grammar of Standard Macedonian, written by
the Macedonian poet and linguist Blaže Koneski (1921–1993).
If we formulate, however, the question of whether language is an elementary and
perhaps also determining feature of a nation in general, we come to a less definite
conclusions. The nations of Byelorussian and, to a certain extent, Ukraine can serve
as examples. They both have their standard languages going back into the past, but in
practice they also use another language (Russian) or an interdialect (such as Ukrainian surzhyk). The characteristic feature of a nation is not mere language, but, above
all, ethnos, territory and, mainly, independence as a state.
More interesting is the example of the Irish living in the Republic of Ireland. They
regard themselves as a nation but rather than speak their Celtic language, use the
Irish variety of English. Although Gaelic is sometimes spoken in western parts of the
island and is obligatory at school, it is used less than the related Scottish Gaelic that
is found in the western Scottish highlands, which are said to have been inhabited by
the Irish themselves.
In contrast with this is Welsh, which is commonly spoken in Wales across all
spheres of life and which benefits from strong positive discrimination. It, like Scottish
Gaelic, is differentiated from Irish Gaelic by its enjoying significant, and very disproportionate in terms of its number of users, support from government and the media.
The contention that I take issue with is that of the ‘representational principle’, a
view that may hold good for parliaments but which cannot apply to literature, the
aesthetic value of which cannot be measured by strips of land or state policies. No
canon can be defined by the representatives of national literatures of a given zone
— the canon is supranational and supersedes any border. Art and aesthetics do not
undergo any diktat and, if they do, it is only a temporary episode.
Positive discrimination cannot be a constant accompanying element of linguistic
and literary evolution (although it may serve as temporary tool), since development has
its own factors and drivers, including that of size. The big has an immediate advantage
over the small, and nothing can be done about this. (Exceptions only confirm the basic
rule.) In the case of literature, size is conferred, among other things, by the largeness of
a nation, by the number of the people speaking the same language, and by the readers
of the given language, as well as by historical development and its tragic events.
The case of Central Europe and of the Balkans evidently confirms this fact and one
can only speculate on what the state of Serbian, Bulgarian or any other South-Slavonic
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literature might be, had there been no Turkish oppression, or what might be the case for
Czech literature if there had been no Hussite wars or Battle of the White Mountain.6
Commenting upon the volumes of the History of the Literary Cultures of East-Central Europe7 we arrived — aside from the general positive evaluation of this scholarly
attempt — at several critical conclusions that are prompted even by the title of the
immense project: ‘literary cultures’ and ‘East-Central Europe’.
The first problem starts with the basic meaning of comparative literary studies and
with a certain tension between supranational and national literary structures in their
both diachronic and synchronic aspects, their partial and general aspects. One must
be careful to take into account not only the contemporary, topical state of things —
the contemporary and largely political status of literature — but also the diachronic
structures that emerge from the deep well of mentalities and cultures of the past.
One must neither apply a rigidly historical approach that overlays past situations
onto the current position, nor must one modernize the past. There is no scope for
definite conclusions, but only for basic principles that oscillate between universal and
specific points of view. Below I outline ten pointers or guidelines that I believe must
be kept at the fore to illuminate the role and scope of comparative literary studies as
it impinges on the region.
1. The various methods of comparative studies are useful for the study of Central
Europe only if implementing the principles of area, territorial or zonal, cultural, religious
and political studies but preserving the philological core of the entity as the key-factor.
2. It is necessary to study not only coincidences and similarities, but, above all,
divergences and resistances that are often methodologically more prolific.
3. Central Europe is more a spiritual or cultural entity than a geopolitical one.
4. Comparative literary studies are of no use if used as a political tool. A relic of this
thinking is the term Ostmitteleuropa (East Central Europe). Such an entity has never
existed and is a purpose-built artifice such as, for example, the West and East Balkans.
5. Vestiges of the Cold War such as the assertion that Prague is situated in the
East and Helsinki in the West are false and unhelpful — as is similarly the claim that
Dresden lies in Central Europe while Cheb, on the western-most edge of the Czech
Republic, is in East Central Europe.8
6. Key to understanding Central Europe are marginal undercurrents and outsiders. Thus one should look at developments that do not form the mainstream in Central European national literatures — these include religiously oriented and cultural
or literary streams and currents such as Catholic Modernism, traditionalism, rural
literature, utopian and anti-utopian literatures, conservatism of all strands, regressive
trends, static literary structures, naive art, children’s literature and mass literature.
7. When studying the literature of Central Europe, a useful starting point is to
compare the transformations of literary genres.
8. Beware the danger of the prevalent impact of shallow but now fashionable subjects and approaches, such as the pure focus on the internet, mass media, sexual deviations, social or domestic violence, gender studies, political correctness, and so on.
9. To study Central Europe also means to examine the role of so-called invaders,
who have provided crucial outer stimuli. Thus the impacts of French, Anglo-American and Scandinavian cultures are all important, as, among other things, are the
T h e Pe r manent Crisis, or Can, Could or Should Comparative Literar y Studies Sur vive?
problem of immigration and emigration, the impact of East Slavs in general and the
Russians in particular, the impact of Balkan and Asian elements and the importance
of non-Christian religions.
10. Avoid the exaggeration of Western cosmopolitan ideas of literature that march
to the chant: ‘The less national, the better’.
Ďurišin’s examination of the linguistic, cultural and ethnological aspect of comparative literature showed the need for a new, integrative discipline that could synthesize new developments in philology and various elements of social science. This
led, finally, to the establishment of integrated genre typology and area studies in the
Institute of Slavonic Studies at the Masaryk University, Brno.
While the methodological integrity of comparative studies is today a mere fiction,
the importance of comparative studies manifested its strength in modern and postmodern constructions of the history of literature. Today it is not possible to write a
history of any national literature outside a comparative framework. The construction
of any history of literature is connected with comparative criteria and with the notion
of literary streams and currents.
The general principle of periodization of the literary process starts with the search
for a net of mutually permeating criteria. The usual method is a peculiar hierarchy
of social, political and poetic and individual criteria. At the point of intersection of
all these factors there are the streams and currents as a specific historical-aesthetic
manifestation of the development of poetic forms.
The problem of so-called progress in literature has been put aside in the same way
as that of development in society. Periodization obviously has paradigmatic and syntagmatic aspects. The former is represented by the evolution of literature split into autonomous stages defined by the above-mentioned complex of criteria. The latter, as a rule,
defines the horizontal boundaries of a literary process, for example, in the framework of
a national literature. The problem is closely linked to that of the corpus of each national
literature — what belongs to a certain national literature and what does not.
In Slavonic literatures in general, and in the literatures situated in the transitional
areas that are Central Europe and the Balkans, it often means the polyliterariness or
the presence of foreign or other literature or literatures in the area: in both the Lands
of the Bohemian Crown and Slovenia there is the Old Church Slavonic ‘cradle’ – the
entity of canonical texts written in different geographical varieties of Old Church Slavonic and the literature created by the representatives of Germanic tribes or Germans
themselves from the Middle Ages.
The problem has been exacerbated by the permanent existence of one or more
other literatures in the area of the major national literature and by their intersection,
sometimes even permeation giving birth to a bi- or polyliterariness of the key authors.
Sometimes it gives rise to a ‘cordon sanitaire’, the hermetic sealing and the international
isolation of these literatures — this is partly the case of Czech and German literatures
in certain periods of their development, especially towards the end of the 19th century
and after the First World War. The oscillation between openness and isolation did much
to shape the literary landscape, especially at the time we are interested in, the interwar
period when the occurrence of the national tendencies was becoming obvious.
Another problem is linked to the intrinsic structures of a national literature. Of
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course, a dominant role has been played by the literatures created in capitals and natural centres of national life. But due to historical developments, some literatures have
been differentiated in greater detail according to their regional roots. For example, in the
Czech cultural environment, German or Austro-German impacts and other facts connected with the cultural orientation of the 19th-century national revival complicate the
picture. And then there are elements such as the immense impact of Russian literature
during the whole of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century.
A crucial factor is also that of the changing area and political administrative
framework that a national literature has developed in — in modern times in Central
Europe, Austria-Hungary, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia and the Russian and later
Soviet influence and the split of both bigger countries after 1990. It is obvious that
there are potential vestiges from those processes still present in the corpus of both
national literatures – in both the positive and the negative sense.
The weak aspects of contemporary comparative studies are connected with their
methodological dispersion and non-existent methodological memory. New comparativists are often forced to discover methods time and time again, and come to results,
already revealed. A doctoral student of literature from the Masaryk University, Brno,
once told me that they had discovered a powerful and innovative method called comparative literature in Paris during a longer study stay there. The entire Czech tradition
of comparative studies and the work of its French and Russian predecessors was like
an undiscovered land to the student.
One of the relevant aspects of comparative studies is linked to a so-called dialogue
of cultures. In the past we were interested in it for various reasons. Besides the concrete example of contradictory Russo-Czech literary relations, it was the dialogue of
cultures as such and later also different manifestations of some other phenomena:
area studies and the literature of quasi-postmodernism, the prose of virtual authenticity and so on. In more general reflection we came to the conclusion that the dialogue of cultures has an intrinsically inconsistent nature. On the surface the dialogue
may function as a positive means of communication, but at a deeper level it is also as
a powerful strategic tool. It is a positive source of mutual understanding but, at the
same time, a purely pragmatic medium of reaching individual goals.
The dialogue of cultures and area studies has been cultivated only recently,
but goes back a long way under different names and labels. The primary goal is
to return literature to its wider stream together with culture in general, sciences,
arts in general, economy and economics, politics and political science and social
custom. In other words: the dialogue has always had spatial and temporal dimensions: events in a concrete area have always focused on culture and the dialogue
of cultures.9
What is even more important is the fact that area studies, together with the dialogue of cultures, can play an important role in the conception not only of history of
literature, but also of the theory of literary history (Wellek, 1936). From this point
of view, new publications, reacting to a certain absence of historicity in contemporary literary criticism, are a mere reflection of Wellek’s attempts (Greenblatt, 1993,
2000, 2005; Bassler, 2001, Elbrich, 1999, Kelly, 2002, Papoušek–Tureček, 2005, Kako
pisati..., 2003, Writing Literary History, 2006). In the framework of this return to
T h e Pe r manent Crisis, or Can, Could or Should Comparative Literar y Studies Sur vive?
a diachronic approach, some new researchers in Russian studies of a younger generation have appeared (Tihanov, 2000, 2002, Pospíšil, 2006).
The contemporary status of comparative literary studies is, therefore, rather complicated; on the one hand, traditional comparative studies are newly revealed as inspiring in some respects and are regarded sometimes as predecessors of more modern approaches, such as area studies. On the other, there is a keen quest for further
innovations. And, last but not least, comparative studies have appeared in the focus
of application as a methodological tool when conceiving a new model of literary history or a history of any national literature that cannot be understood outside its comparative framework.
The answer to the question asked in the title of this paper — can, could or should
comparative literary studies survive? — may therefore be: comparative literary studies may function as a loose net of historically tested approaches, single methods and
visions, or as a link of a chain of more complex approaches connected with new
subjects and problems of world literature, with the prevalence of certain genre clusters and with the dominant impact of mass literature in general. Moreover, and even
paradoxically, because it reminds us of its position under positivism, comparative
literary studies will become a constant part of traditional disciplines of literary scholarship, such as literary history or practical literary criticism. Comparative literary
studies, might more than in the past, dissolve into other disciplines, or may function
as a more-or-less compact discipline in a wider framework of cultural and area studies. In the everyday practice of literary criticism, comparative studies will not cease to
exist and will function as a tool of useful comparison of various literary phenomena
as any time in the past with no or little regard to innovative trends in literary theory
and methodology.
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in Opera Slavica 1, 1993, pp. 44–47.
POSPÍŠIL, I., and ZELENKA, M., (eds.), Česko-slovenské vztahy v slovanských a středoevropských
souvislostech, Brno: Ústav slavistiky FF MU, 2003.
POSPÍŠIL, I., and ZELENKA, M., (eds.), Česko-slovenské vztahy, Evropa a svět. Brněnské texty
k slovakistice VI., Brno: Slavistická společnost Franka Wollmana a Ústav slavistiky FF MU, 2004.
POSPÍŠIL, I., and ZOUHAR, J., (eds.), Literatura a filozofie (Zdeněk Mathauser). Kolektivní monografie.,
Brno: Katedra filosofie, Ústav slavistiky FF MU, 2008.
POSPÍŠIL, I., and MOSER, M., (eds.), Comparative Cultural Studies in Central Europe, Brno: Ústav
slavistiky Filozofické fakulty Masarykovy univerzity, 2004.
POSPÍŠIL, I., MOSER, M., and NEWERKLA, S. M., , Litteraria Humanitas XIII. Austrian, Czech and
Slovak Slavonic Studies in Their Central European Context., Brno: Ústav slavistiky Filozofické fakulty
Masarykovy univerzity, 2005.
T h e Pe r manent Crisis, or Can, Could or Should Comparative Literar y Studies Sur vive?
POSPÍŠIL, I., (ed.), Areál – sociální vědy – filologie, Brno: Kabinet integrované žánrové typologie, Ústav
slavistiky, Filozofická fakulta Masarykovy univerzity, 2002.
POSPÍŠIL, I., (ed.), Integrovaná žánrová typologie (Komparativní genologie). Projekt – metodologie
– terminologie – struktura oboru – studie., Brno: Masarykova univerzita, 1999.
POSPÍŠIL, I., (ed.), Litteraria Humanitas XI, Crossroads of Cultures: Central Europe, Kreuzwege der
Kulturen: Mitteleuropa, Křižovatky kultury: Střední Evropa, Perekrestki kul‘tury: Srednjaja Jevropa,
Brno: Ústav slavistiky Filozofické fakulty Masarykovy univerzity, 2002.
POSPÍŠIL, I., (ed.), Světové literatury 20. století v kostce, pod vedením I. Pospíšila zpracovali S. Dembická,
J. Kovář, K. Křížová, P. Kyloušek a I. Přikrylová. Praha: LIBRI, 1998.
POSPÍŠIL, I., and ZELENKA, M., René Wellek a meziválečné Československo. Ke kořenům strukturální
estetiky, Brno: Masarykova univerzita, 1996.
POSPÍŠIL, Ivo, ‘Próza virtuální autenticity a existenciálního znejistění’, in SPFFBU, X 10, Slavica
Litteraria, 2007, pp. 5–20.
POSPÍŠIL, I., Střední Evropa a Slované, Brno: Masarykova univerzita, 2006.
POSPÍŠIL, I., ‘The Problem of Value and Equality in Comparative Literary Studies: the Past and the
Present (Some Comments on the Conception of “Area Value”)’, in JANASZEK and IVANIČKOVÁ,
H., (ed.), The Horizons of Comtemporary Slavic Comparative Literature Studies, Warszawa: Dom
Wydawniczy Elipsa, 2007, pp. 39– 49.
TIHANOV, G., The Master and the Slave. Lukács, Bakhtin, and the Ideas of Their Time, Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2000.
VIRK, T., Primerjalna književnost na prelomu tisočletja. Kritični pregled., Ljubljana: Studia Litteraria,
Inštitut za slovinsko literaturo in literarne vede ZRC SAZU, 2007.
VOISINE-JECHOVÁ, H., Dějiny české literatury, Jinočany: H&H, 2005.
WEHRLI, M., Základy modernej teórie literatúry, Bratislava: SVKL, 1965.
WELLEK, R., ‘Názov, podstata a dejiny porovnávacej literatúry’, in Slavica Slovaca 3, 1968, no. 2, pp. 121–41.
WELLEK, R., ‘The Crisis of Comparative Literature.’, in Proceedings of the Second International Congress
of Comparative Literature, ed. By W. P. Friedrich, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,
1959, pp. 149–59.
WELLEK, R., The Theory of Literary History. Travaux de Cercle Linguistique du Prague 6., Praha, 1936.
WELLEK, R., Immanuel Kant in England, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1931.
WELLEK, René, ‘The Two Traditions of Czech Literature’, in Essays on Czech Literature, The Hague:
Mouton, 1963, p. 30 (Originally in KAUN, A, and SIMMONS, E. J., (eds.), Slavic Studies, Ithaca, N.
Y.: Cornell University Press, 1943, pp. 213–228).
WOLLMAN, F., Die Literatur der Slawen, ed. by Reinhard Ibler und Ivo Pospíšil, trans. from the Czech
by Kristina Kallert, Vergleichende Studien zu den slavischen Sprachen und Literaturen, ed. by Renate
Belentschikow and Reinhard Ibler, Vol. 7., Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York,
Oxford, Wien: Peter Lang, 2003.
WOLLMAN, F., Slovesnost Slovanů, Praha: Orbis, 1928.
WOLLMAN, S., ‘Postmodernismus ve slovansko-středoevropském zorném poli: fakta a fikce.’, in
POSPÍŠIL, I., (ed.), Slavistika dnes. Kolektivní monografie, Brno: Česká asociace slavistů, Ústav
slavistiky Filozofické fakulty Masarykovy univerzity, 2007, pp. 213–28.
WOLLMAN, S., ‘Van Tieghem a ti druzí: hledání generální literatury směrem k jihovýchodu’, in Česká
slavistika 2008, Brno – Praha: Academicus, pp. 323–335.
ZELENKA, Miloš, ‘Juvan, Marko: Literarna veda v rekonstrukciji. Uvod do sodobni študij’, Narodna a
univerzitna knjižnica, Ljubljana 2006, in Opera Slavica, Vol XVIII, no. 1, 2008, pp. 42–44.
WELLEK, R., ‘The Crisis of Comparative Literature’, in Proceedings of the Second International Congress of Comparative Literature, ed. by W. P. Friedrich, Chapel Hill, 1959, pp. 149–159.
WOLLMAN, F., Die Literatur der Slawen, ed. by Reinhard Ibler and Ivo Pospíšil, trans. from the Czech
by Kristina Kallert, Vergleichende Studien zu den slavischen Sprachen und Literaturen, ed. by Renate
I vo P osp í š i l
Belentschikow and Reinhard Ibler, Vol. 7., Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien: Peter Lang, 2003.; POSPÍŠIL, I., and ZELENKA, M., ‘Mitteleuropa als Knotenpunkt der
Methodologien. Frank Wollmans Slovesnost Slovanů – Traditionen und Zusammenhänge’, in: WOLLMAN, F., Die Literatur der Slawen, pp. 7–30; POSPÍŠIL, I., ‘Sieben Bemerkungen zu Frank Wollmans
Slovesnost Slovanů’, in: WOLLMAN, F., pp. 355–362.
WOLLMAN, F., Slovenska dramatika. ed. by Andrijan Lah, Ljubljana: Slovenski gledališki muzej,
2004, p. 408. See my review in Slavia Occidentalis, Vol. 61 (2004), pp. 195–96.
FILOVÁ, B., and GAŠPARÍKOVÁ, F., (eds.), Slovenské ľudové rozprávky I. Výber zápisov z rokov 1928–
1947. Zapísali poslucháči Slovanského seminára Univerzity Komenského v Bratislave pod vedením profesora PhDr. Franka Wollmana. Stredné Slovensko, Bratislava: Veda, 1993; GAŠPARÍKOVÁ, F. (ed.),
Slovenské ľudové rozprávky II. Západné Slovensko, Bratislava: Veda, 2001; GAŠPARÍKOVÁ, F., (ed.),
Slovenské ľudové rozprávky III. Východné Slovensko, Bratislava: Veda, 2004. See the review and the
report on the Anna Zelenková’s paper, ‘Komparatívne štúdium rozprávky v medziliterárnom kontexte’, in Opera Slavica, Vol. XV, 2005, no. 3., pp. 36–39.
DOROVSKÝ, I., Slovanské meziliterární shody a rozdíly, Brno, 2004.
See my article, ‘The Problem of Value and Equality in Comparative Literary Studies: the Past and the
Present (Some Comments on the Conception of “Area Value”)’, in: JANASZEK-IVANIČKOVÁ, H.,
(ed.), The Horizons of Comtemporary Slavic Comparative Literature Studies, Warsaw: Dom Wydawniczy Elipsa, 2007, pp. 39–49.
NEUBAUER, J., and CORNIS-POPE, M., (eds.) History of the Literary Cultures of East-Central Europe: Junctures and Disjunctures in the 19th and 20th Centuries. 3 Vols, Amsterdam and Philadelphia:
John Benjamins, 2004–2007.
See the selected Central European bibliography in POSPÍŠIL, I. (ed.) Litteraria Humanitas XI. Crossroads of Cultures: Central Europe, Kreuzwege der Kulturen: Mitteleuropa, Křižovatky kultury: Střední
Evropa, Перекрестки культуры: Средняя Европа. Brno: Masarykova univerzita, Filozofická fakulta,
Ústav slavistiky, 2002.
See our studies from the volumes Dialog kultur: My a oni: ve středu i na okraji. Poznámky k českoruským literárním vztahům. In: Dialog kultur I. Sborník příspěvků z odborného semináře – Hradec Králové 14. 11. 2001, katedra slavistiky, Pedagogická fakulta, Univerzita Hradec Králové, OFTIS,
Ústí nad Orlicí 2002, s. 13–39. Několik úvah o dialogu obecně a o dialogu kultur zvláště a o jejich
místě v literární vědě. In: Dialog kultur II. Sborník příspěvků z vědecké konference s mezinárodní
účastí pořádané ve spolupráci se Společností Franka Wollmana při FF MU v Brně, Hradec Králové
12. 11. 2002, Ústí nad Orlicí 2003, uspořádal Oldřich Richterek, s. 7–19. Kulturní dialog a areálová
studia (několik poznámek o spojitosti pojmů). Dialog kultur III. Sborník příspěvků z vědecké konference s mezinárodní účastí pořadáné ve spolupráci se Společností Franka Wollmana při FF MU v Brně
a Českou asociací rusistů. Hradec Králové 26. 10. 2004. Oftis, Ústí nad Orlicí 2005, s. 17–24. Dialog kultur v Hradci Králové jako tichá výzva. In: Dialog kultur IV. Sborník příspěvků z mezinárodní
vědecké konference pořádané ve spolupráci se Slavistickou společností FrankaWollmana při FF MU
v Brně a Českou asociací rusistů. Hradec Králové 23.–24. 1. 2007. Uspořádal Oldřich Richterek. Oftis,
Ústí nad Orlicí 2007, s. 9. Trivialita a hledání virtuální autenticity jako nového dialogu. In: Dialog kultur IV. Sborník příspěvků z mezinárodní vědecké konference pořádané ve spolupráci se Slavistickou
společností FrankaWollmana při FF MU v Brně a Českou asociací rusistů. Hradec Králové 23.–24. 1.
2007. Uspořádal Oldřich Richterek. Oftis, Ústí nad Orlicí 2007, s. 21–27
Komparatistika. Krize komparatistiky. Porovnávání. Metodologie. Areálové
studie. Frank Wollman. Dionýz Ďurišin.
„Strašidlem literární komparatistiky“ z počátku článku je míněna pozice literární komparatistiky dnes v situaci, kdy existuje v několika podobách včetně té, jež se zrodila v obdo60
T h e Pe r manent Crisis, or Can, Could or Should Comparative Literar y Studies Sur vive?
bí pozitivismu. Literární komparatistika je současně přístup, metoda a autonomní disciplína
literární vědy s rozvinutou soustavou terminologie a metodologie.
Jestliže v minulosti prošla kromě stadia pozitivismu také etapou psychologismu, imanentních metod, zejména formalismu a strukturalismu (i když právě čeští strukturalisté ji nejprve
spíše ignorovali) a nakonec poststrukturalismu, zejména hermeneutiky a dekonstrukce, nyní
je jejím charakteristickým rysem hluboká sebereflexe a současně jistá obranářská tendence
a vědomí znejistění a nesamozřejmosti vlastní existence.
V struktuře literární vědy představuje disciplínu, jež obsahuje dějiny, teorii, terminologii
i povahu výzkumné metody. Právě její dlouhá historie činí z ní disciplínu specifickou, jež
vychází ze studia mediteránní oblasti, antiky a posléze z domény národních literatur. Zdá se,
že právě nyní dosáhlo její vývojové paradigma jistého syntetického klimaxu. Srovnání bylo
k dispozici hlavně ve světě volných interaktivních uměleckých hodnot, což bylo možné ve
středověkém náboženském univerzalismu nebo renesanci či v buržoazních revolucích včetně
jejich napoleonského pokračování s vizí jednotné Evropy překonávající feudální izolacionismus. Tradice, které se v českém a slovenském kulturním prostoru utvářely a které směřovaly od wollmanovské eidologie k ďurišinovským zvláštním meziliterárním společenstvím,
meziliterárnosti a meziliterárním centrismům, ale také ke Koprdovu tvořivému pokračování Ďurišina a k Dorovského problému hodnoty a rovnosti v literatuře, odhalily nejen sílu,
ale také slabší aspekty literární komparatistiky spjaté s její metodologickou disperzí a slabou
metodologickou pamětí; noví komparatisté někdy pod jinými maskami objevují již objevené, jen je jinak pojmenovávají; proto otázka terminologie je tu více než jinde spjata s metodologií. Jeden z aspektů současné literární komparatistiky je spojen s tzv. dialogem kultur
a areálovými studiemi, které rozšiřují, reagujíce na prostorové koncepty literární vědy, pozadí
komparativních bádání. To přirozeně navazuje na Wellkův koncept tzv. teorie literární historie. Současný status literární komparatistiky je tedy poněkud komplikovaný: na jedné straně
jsou tradiční komparativní metody odhalovány jako inspirativní (reedice Franka Wollmana,
zájem o Matiju Murka, Karla Krejčího apod.) a chápány jako předchůdci nových přístupů
(areál), na druhé straně je tu silná touha po radikálních inovacích. A, last but not least, literární komparatistika se tu jeví jako nástroj modelující pojetí literární historie a celé literární
vědy překračující rámce striktně národních literatur. Odpověď na otázku z titulu může tedy
znít také v tom smyslu, že literární komparatistika může fungovat jako volná síť historicky
vyzkoušených přístupů nebo jako řetězec kompaktnějších postupů spojovaných se světovou
literaturou a určitými žánry. A přímo paradoxně se může rozpouštět v jiných disciplínách, stát
se jejich součástí stejně jako fungovat v rámci kulturologie nebo areálových studií, generální
komparatistiky nebo zcela tradičně a takřka neinovativně, více či méně jako stabilní nástroj
pragmatického či spíše praktického poznání vnitřně literárních i mimoliterárních souvislostí
„bytí literatury“, jak fungovala předtím.
Prof. PhDr. Ivo Pospíšil, DrSc.
Ústav slavistiky Filozofické fakulty Masarykovy univerzity v Brně
Arna Nováka 1
602 00 Brno
Česká republika
[email protected]

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